Indoor Environment Prerequisite: No Smoking within 25 Feet of Building

LEED credit category Indoor Environmental Quality Logo

Tobacco smoke almost seems like a dead issue because its been banned from inside most buildings including bars and restaurants. However the problem of second-hand tobacco smoke infiltrating buildings through doors, windows, and outdoor air intakes persists because smokers typically don’t take but a few steps into fresh air before they light up. The LEED perspective takes the issue 25 steps farther and mandates that LEED buildings prohibit smoking within 25 feet of the entire  building.

In the early days of certification, often compliance with this prerequisite was demonstrated by designating a smoking area on a site plan. In the current version 3, 2009, all LEED rating systems require the owner to sign a statement that, “Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of entries, outdoor air intakes and operable windows.” Project teams must also submit photographic signage that explicitly states the 25 foot limit.

The unexpected scenario that many project teams are encountering is that LEED is a living rating system, constantly improving, and what was once certified under version 2, may no longer be sufficient for version 3. I recently learned of an example here is Atlanta that a LEED EBv2 certified building has a tenant seeking CIv3 certification and the reviewer requested that the entire building’s non-smoking signage be updated to explicitly state the 25 foot limit. Sometimes these clarifications feel tedious and bureaucratic, but thinking ahead, it will serve not only the CI tenants but all occupants and visitors to this EB building that they are better protected, compared to non-LEED buildings, from the air impacts of second hand smoke.

Where’s the triple bottom line in this? It pays equal respect to the CI tenants as well as their neighbors inside the building and the immediate community. In the big picture, I like to know if occupants in LEED buildings have fewer sick visits to their doctors, that would look good for our triple bottom line.

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